Tag Archive: legal update

Man cleared in Durham police officer’s shooting

carlos

From WRAL

— A Durham man was acquitted Friday of shooting a police officer three years ago, with jurors convicting him only of common law robbery in the case.

Officer Kelly Stewart was shot in the thigh during a confrontation with Carlos Antonio Riley Jr. following a December 2012 traffic stop. Stewart testified that Riley was being uncooperative and shot him after the two got into a fist fight. But Riley’s defense attorney insisted that Stewart accidentally shot himself with his own gun during the struggle.

“I believed this was going to happen. My faith, my faith, my faith and prayer. Prayers going up, and prayers come down,” a relieved Patricia Riley, Riley’s grandmother, said after the verdict was announced.

“The truth always prevails over all things,” said Riley’s mother, Karen Judd. “My son always has to be honest. I taught him that. I taught him to treat people in a humane way. During this trial, they were trying to portray him as a vicious criminal.”

Stewart was unavailable for comment Friday, and Police Chief Jose Lopez expressed disappointment in the outcome. (more…)

Fourth Circuit rejects appeal by jailed Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell

kingjayFrom Triad City Beat/ By Jordan Green

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down an appeal by North Carolina Latin Kings Leader Jorge Cornell, his brother and fellow Latin Kings member Russell Kilfoil and an associate named Ernesto Wilson.

The three-judge panel that heard the case in Richmond, Va. earlier this year upheld the judgment of the district court based on finding no reversible error. Summarizing the arguments of Cornell and his co-defendants, Judge Steven Agee wrote that the defendants made “several assertions of error concerning their trial, primarily focusing on the district court’s jury instructions and the sufficiency of the evidence.”

The opinion was published on March 16, less than two months after the judges heard arguments from the defendants’ lawyers and federal prosecutors.

Cornell, also known as King Jay, received a sentence of 28 years in prison after being found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, along with additional charges of violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Both of the latter charges were related to an April 2008 assault in which the government alleged that Cornell ordered Latin Kings members to retaliate against a supposed rival.

Cornell professed his innocence during his sentencing hearing, and said he never ordered any of his members to commit any act of violence. He said he kicked out members who committed crimes. Several community leaders testified about Cornell’s efforts to promote reconciliation among street gangs, encourage his members to pursue education and vocational development, and wide-ranging social justice efforts. The federal appellate opinion issued on March 16 provides a contrasting characterization of the Latin Kings: “Central to the organization is a culture of violence, which is manifested through frequent disputes with rival gangs. Violence and the threat of violence are also used to maintain compliance with gang rules.” (more…)

Albert Woodfox Applies for Bail With Expedited Review

albert-carrieFrom A3 Newsletter

This afternoon Albert Woodfox’s legal team submitted an application to US District Court Judge James A. Brady for release on bail with expedited review (View the court filing here).

This month marks 2 years since Albert’s conviction was overturned for a third time based on a finding of racial discrimination in the selection of his grand jury foreperson, a decision now firmly upheld by a unanimous panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Though the Attorney General may continue to stand in the way of justice and appeal yet again to the US Supreme Court and/or attempt to retry him, Albert’s attorneys argue that there is no legal or moral justification to hold him in prison any longer, nor any reason to believe the State of Louisiana could succeed in reconvicting him in a fair proceeding.

In a moving petition, they detail not just the legal underpinnings of freeing those wrongfully convicted, but also the deeply flawed legal processes that have resulted in this innocent man spending an unconscionable 4 decades in a solitary cell. As they point out, “the State has now had not just one but two chances to convict Mr. Woodfox at a trial that passes constitutional muster, and failed.” (more…)

Court stops parole bid for Sundiata Acoli

SundiattaWrite a note of support to Sundiata Acoli:

Sundiata Acoli #39794-066 (Squire)
FCI Cumberland
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. BOX 1000
Cumberland, MD 21501

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey’s Supreme Court has put the brakes on the parole bid of a man convicted in the 1973 murder of a state trooper.

The justices on Thursday granted the state attorney general’s request that Sundiata Acoli not be paroled until the court decides whether to hear arguments in his case.

Acoli, then known as Clark Edward Squire, was convicted with current fugitive Joanne Chesimard in the murder of trooper Werner Foerster during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Chesimard was found guilty but escaped from prison and eventually fled to Cuba, where she was granted asylum by Fidel Castro. She is now living as Assata Shakur and is the first woman placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List.

Last fall, an appeals court reversed a parole board panel’s decision and ordered Acoli released. The attorney general’s office says the court should have sent Acoli’s case to the full parole board for a rehearing. Acoli remains incarcerated. (more…)

Government rebuked for excluding witness in Latin Kings trial

Jay-NPRFrom Triad City Beat

A federal appellate judge finds fault with the government’s decision to exclude testimony from a defense witness in the trial of former Latin King leader Jorge Cornell, but a panel of judges is less sympathetic to arguments about the role of interstate commerce and instructions for the jury to continue deliberating.

A federal appellate judge for the Fourth Circuit sharply criticized the federal government’s decision to exclude testimony from a defense witness from the 2012 trial of former North Carolina Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell.

Judge Robert B. King, who was appointed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton, bristled when US Attorney Sonja Ralston argued that the court’s opinion in the 1999 case United States v. Rhynes on the matter of witness exclusion was “fractured.”

Ralston’s characterization slighted a ruling on witness exclusion handed down by the very court hearing the appeal of Cornell’s criminal racketeering conviction.

“It was eight to two,” riposted King, who wrote the opinion in the 1999 case. “That’s not very fractured.” (more…)

Albert Woodfox’s Overturned Conviction Upheld in Unanimous Decision

angola32From Angola 3 News

We are thrilled and honored to announce that just hours ago, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Brady’s 2013 ruling overturning Albert’s conviction for a third time in a 3-0, unanimous decision (view a PDF of the official court ruling here).

Though the courts have finally ruled in the interest of justice, it may still be months or years before this innocent man is released from his solitary cell.

This is THE moment those of us whose lives have been touched by these men and this case over the years have been waiting for. This is the time when we must call upon the whole of our connections, creativity, and courage to call with one voice for the immediate, unequivocal release of Albert Woodfox from prison once and for all without delay.
Even with a unanimous decision in Albert’s favor, firmly planted in a mountain of innocence evidence, the State can still tie up his release in a number of appeals and even choose to re-indict and attempt to retry him.

Lest we lose Albert to delayed justice, as we did Herman, we must all come together to demand that this nightmare finally come to an end. (more…)

Sundiata Acoli, Assata Shakur’s Co-Defendant, Ordered Released On Parole

sundiata5From Corporate Media

A man convicted in the shooting death of a New Jersey state trooper in a crime that still provokes strong emotion among law enforcement more than 40 years later was ordered released on parole by a state appeals court Monday.

Sundiata Acoli was known as Clark Edward Squire when he was convicted of the 1973 slaying of state trooper Werner Foerster during a stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. Now in his mid-70s, he was denied parole most recently in 2011, but the appellate judges reversed that ruling Monday.

In a 28-page opinion, the panel wrote that the parole board ignored evidence favorable to Acoli and gave undue consideration to past events such as a probation violation that occurred decades earlier.

One of the three people in the car when it was stopped was Joanne Chesimard, who also was convicted of Foerster’s slaying, but eventually escaped to Cuba and is now known as Assata Shakur. Last year, state and federal authorities announced a $2 million reward for information leading to her capture, and the FBI made her the first woman on its list of most wanted terrorists. She and Acoli were members of black militant organizations at the time. (more…)

Luke Accepts Plea Deal – Two Years in Prison, Eight Years Probation and Exile

Luke-is-the-fucking-greatest-300x300From Let Luke Go

Today, Luke accepted a negotiated non-cooperating plea deal and was sentenced to two years in prison and eight years of probation. As a last minute addition to this plea deal, Judge Markle added that Luke was to be banned from the state of Georgia, save one county, for the duration of his probation. Luke was taken away from us to prison immediately after court.

This end to the case surprised many of us. It was only two weeks ago that we were alerted to the fact that Luke’s trial would begin this soon. After that notice, events continued to unfold rapidly and chaotically.  The prosecution officially offered Luke this plea deal last Thursday.  Luke was placed in a very difficult position, facing decades in prison if convicted by a jury. He decided not to risk such a long sentence, but rather to accept the manageable sentence of two years in prison, and eight years of probation. (more…)

Sean Swain’s Security Level Reduced!

Seandrawing

From Sean Swain

Our call-in efforts have proved successful. Sean’s security level has been reduced to 4AT. Here’s Sean’s description of what that is:

“Good news. I was moved to 4AT. It’s not much different than 4B, but I get 2 ½ hours with three other prisoners and I have access to phone everyday. I get contact visits again, on contact visit days, whenever those are designated.”

Luke Self-Defense Hearing Set for July 1st

Luke-is-the-fucking-greatest-300x300From Let Luke Go

Luke had a status hearing at the courthouse today where we learned that his self-defense hearing will be held on July 1st at 9am. Everyone who can show up to court should, as this will be an important date for Luke. His legal team will be arguing that he should be immune from prosecution because he was acting in self-defense. If you are able to come please show up dressed for court. It will be held at:

Fulton County Superior Court

185 Central Ave

Atlanta, GA 30303

Courtoom 5B